An SEO proposal is a chance to highlight your value to a potential client.
It’s your pitch to win new business.
And it can make the difference between winning or losing a client.
So what should it include?
That’s what we’re going to reveal in this guide. We’ll break down the essential components of a successful SEO proposal.
- What an SEO proposal is
- Establishing your SEO project team and resources
- Developing your strategy
- Writing the proposal
What Is An SEO Proposal?
An SEO proposal is a document that explains the services an agency will provide to improve a website’s ranking in search results.
It typically details the current state of the client’s website, suggested search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, and expected outcomes.
The proposal sets the foundation for the project. It should detail your SEO services, a timeline for the work, and a breakdown of costs.
Benefits Of An SEO Proposal
This document isn’t just a formality or a box you need to tick. It’s your chance to win over potential clients.
If you get it right, your SEO proposal can position your agency as the partner your potential clients need.
Here’s why you need an awesome SEO proposal:
An SEO proposal lays out the steps and strategies to be used. It shows your clients you know what you’re doing and how you will help them achieve their goals.
It makes sure everyone is aligned from the get-go.
Clients want to see measurable outcomes. Well-defined goals provide a benchmark for success and show clients what’s possible. They also demonstrate that your agency is results-driven.
Offering a clear, upfront cost breakdown establishes trust. Clients usually have a set marketing budget. They want to know if they can afford you.
Read our guide on SEO pricing to learn what you should be charging for your services.
Your SEO proposal demonstrates your professionalism and expertise. It gives the client confidence that they are working with an agency that can get results.
There are no guarantees with SEO. But you can provide anticipated outcomes.
This helps clients visualize the return on their investment and sets benchmarks for measuring performance.
Knowing what to do in SEO is about 5% of the battle
Getting it done is 95%
If your SEO proposal doesn’t speak the language of the executives (cost savings, revenue growth, profit) it’s not getting prioritized
— Ethan Hays (@ethanhays) January 31, 2023
Assembling Your Team
The first step for creating an SEO proposal is assembling your team. These are the people that will do the work and deliver the results.
Here’s what you need to consider:
Start by evaluating the expertise already present within your SEO agency. You should have a good idea of your capabilities.
Depending on the project, you’ll need team members to handle content creation, technical SEO, link building, and other areas.
It’s also important to audit your current tech stack.
You’ll need tools for website analytics, keyword research, and other essential SEO tasks. Catalog these tools and make sure they meet the campaign’s requirements.
In some cases, your internal resources may not be enough for the SEO project. That’s when you look to external resources.
Here’s a breakdown of external options you can consider:
You can collaborate with other SEO agencies on larger projects.
Some agencies focus on specific aspects of SEO. For example, if the project requires a large-scale blog content strategy, you can outsource to an agency specializing in content creation.
Some white-label providers offer SEO packages you can use to expand your range of services and plug skill gaps. You provide the services under your brand name but use a third-party provider to do the work.
Hiring freelancers can be a cost-effective way to handle some aspects of your SEO project. Freelancers typically work on a per-task basis, so it’s a scalable way to meet the project demands.
If you need some outside help, check out our guide to SEO outsourcing to learn how to do it the right way,
Gather Client Information
With your team nailed down, it’s time to research and gather information about the client. The objective is to understand their operations, goals, and challenges.
You need to understand the client’s business and the industry they operate in. Make sure you know the specifics of their products and services and any unique selling points.
This will be crucial for keyword targeting and content strategy.
Understanding the target audience will help you narrow in on the right content and SEO tactics.
Consider factors like age, geographic location, interests, and online behavior.
Previous SEO Efforts
Knowing what’s been done helps you determine the current SEO baseline.
It helps you avoid repeating tasks and guides your strategy. For example, if the client had extensive on-page optimizations done, you might focus more on off-page tactics.
Learning about past SEO efforts can also reveal techniques that may have been implemented incorrectly or strategies that didn’t work. This can help you avoid similar mistakes.
You also want to know about any past penalties that could make it more challenging to achieve results.
Collaboration and communication are key to successful SEO project management.
Make sure you know who the stakeholders are within the client’s organization. Who will be the primary point of contact? Who will provide the essential data and approvals?
Establishing these contacts helps you understand the scope of the project. You need to know your responsibilities and what the client will bring to the table.
When you start working with a new SEO client, make it clear who owns what.
Ask these questions:
– Do you have a site admin?
– What is your developer resource like?
– Who will implement content changes?
– Do you have project managers?
Clarity here will save problems later on.
— Sam Underwood 🇬🇧 (@SamUnderwoodUK) October 11, 2022
Developing A Strategy
Your strategy is the most important part of your SEO proposal.
It shows that you understand the client’s goals and that you have a plan to achieve them.
Here’s how to develop a killer SEO strategy:
Analyze The Business Goals And Objectives
Start by defining the client’s goals and objectives. This will give direction to the project and help you set a clear path to follow.
You can speak with the key stakeholders or arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss their primary goals.
When you know what the client wants to achieve, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to define what success looks like. That could be an increase in keyword rankings or traffic over a set period.
Make sure you emphasize the potential return on investment in your proposal. Focus on the metrics that will bring tangible benefits.
In a recent survey, small businesses ranked organic traffic as the most important metric for measuring SEO success:
Set clear objectives for the SEO project. And make sure the objectives are achievable.
Understand Your Competitors
You need to know what you’re up against in the SERPs.
Ask the client who their main competitors are. These are the companies offering similar products or services.
It’s also important to do your own research.
You can use SEO tools to see which competitors rank for important target keywords. Ahrefs and Semrush are the most popular tools for competitor analysis.
Look at the types of articles, videos, and other content formats competitors use. This can give insights into the types of content that resonate with the target audience.
Dig into competitors’ keyword strategies and see how they compare to the prospective client.
Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs provide keyword overlap features. This can be a great way to gain quick insights into the competitive landscape.
Understanding competitors helps you see what works and what doesn’t. You can get a clear idea of how competitive the niche is and what’s required.
Conduct an SEO Audit & Technical Audit
Before you can improve a website’s SEO performance, you need to know its current state. That’s why you need to conduct an SEO and technical audit.
An SEO audit will help you pinpoint the on-page elements and off-page factors you can improve to boost search visibility.
Start with keyword analysis.
This will show you the keywords the client currently ranks for. You can see how the website performs for important head terms and long tail keywords.
It’s also important to look at the overall trend. Are there any spikes or drops in traffic that could point to potential issues?
Map out the current structure of the website. Check on-page elements like titles, descriptions, and headings. Are they optimized for search engines?
Review the current backlink profile to judge off-page SEO performance. Pay attention to low-quality links that could impact search ranking.
If the client has had previous SEO work performed on the site, check the anchor text distribution of external links. You want to make sure there are no over-optimization penalties.
Use tools like Ahrefs and Screaming Frog to perform a technical website audit.
When I start working with a new SEO client, the first thing I do is a technical SEO audit.
Making strategic enhancements to a website is not as impactful until the technical foundation of a website is sound.
— Nat Miletic (@natmiletic) June 21, 2021
There’s a lot to cover in a technical audit, but make sure you review the following:
- Crawlability and indexing issues
- Internal linking structure
- Page speed
Check out our technical SEO guide for a more detailed breakdown of what to look for.
After checking everything with a site audit, make a report. List all the things that need improvement.
In your SEO proposal, talk about what changes are needed and why.
Create A Link Building Plan & Content Strategy
Content and backlinks are the backbone of your SEO strategy. You need to cover these two key aspects in your SEO proposals.
Don’t get distracted by shiny new marketing objects.
It’s content and links, folks. Content and links.
— Andrea Bosoni (@theandreboso) January 19, 2023
Here’s how to create a plan for both:
Link Building Plan
Show the client your target link profile and the methods you will use to achieve it.
Make sure you emphasize obtaining high-quality backlinks from reputable domains. You want a mix of backlink types – editorial links, guest posts, business profiles, etc.
A recent survey revealed the most popular link building tactics used by SEOs:
You can also analyze competitors’ backlink profiles to identify potential link building opportunities.
An effective content strategy should include the creation of new content and the optimization of existing content.
The new content plan should detail the types of content you will create and how you will conduct topic research. It should also include the publishing frequency and distribution channels.
For existing content, you want to prioritize the pages that could benefit from a refresh. If a page with several backlinks has slipped down the rankings, consider expanding and updating content.
You can use tools like SurferSEO to compare existing content to competing pages and identify areas for improvement.
Writing The Proposal
Once you’ve done the research and planning, the next step is to write the SEO proposal.
Here’s how to do it:
Outline Your Services
Make it clear what you offer, how much it will cost, and what benefits the client can expect. Keep it simple and easy to understand.
1⃣ SEO proposal tips
a. Keep it simple
It can be tempting to include a ton of info to show experience, but I suggest keeping it clean. Sometimes it’s not *what you say* but *how you show it* that can make a big difference. Use a clean format that is engaging, light and relevant.
— Christina LeVasseur (Brodzky) (@cbrodzky) May 10, 2022
Each service should have its own heading and a short description. Briefly describe what the client can expect after the service is completed.
Include the fee for each service if you offer individual pricing. You can include a set monthly retainer fee if you provide SEO packages.
Set A Realistic Timeline
Next to each task, include a start and end date.
This shows when each task will begin and when it should be completed. For example, an SEO audit might take a week, while link building could be ongoing.
It’s important to be honest and choose achievable dates. By setting a realistic timeline, your client knows what to expect.
🎯SEO Pro Tip #70: Doing client SEO work?
Make sure to set the expectations well.
You likely won’t be able to improve their rankings within a month.
And if you promise otherwise, you’re starting off the relationship with the client on the wrong foot.
— Nick Zviadadze 🇺🇦 (@Nick_zv_) January 19, 2023
Provide Data & Statistics
Use hard data to show clients clear evidence of what’s happening. This can include keyword rankings, organic traffic, and other key SEO metrics.
Visualize the data with charts and graphs to make it more engaging.
This data provides a compelling case for your strategies. It will also provide a baseline to measure the impact of your plan.
Including testimonials and data from previous clients can be super effective. If you got a previous client to rank #1, flaunt it!
Closing The Proposal
With everything in place and the client ready, it’s time to close off the proposal.
Of course, once they sign, that’s when the hard work really begins.
Make sure to have everything in place ready to get going. The worst thing you can have is a client ready and raring to go while you have to stall due to a lack of available capacity.
Our recommendation will always be to outsource your deliverables so that you can focus your time on client and project management!
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